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Dutch company sells coffee, then uses the grinds for new products

How does the coffee industry relate to circular economy?

With Americans drinking more coffee than ever, the waste production has also seen an immaculate uptick in recent years. Think about it. We order coffee and receive a cup that ultimately ends up in a landfill, along with straws, napkins, and the whole 9 yards. But what about the coffee grounds used to make your morning pick-me-up? Imagine a world where we lease these grounds until they are no longer useful. Let’s dive into the world we live in today.

(Photo Credit: theupcyclingcompany via Instagram)

According to Daily Coffee News by Roast Magazine, a new initiative has been launched by Rotterdam-based Rotterzwam, called “Coffee as a Service,” in which the company retains ownership of the coffee even after it is ground, brewed, and turned into spent grinds. Think about it like renting an apartment. You get the benefit of having a place to live, but you lease the property from someone else.

In turn, the company will then use the grinds to create its own separate line of products, such as mushroom-growing kits that involve coffee grounds as a material resource. The promise made to customers who lease coffee is to receive loyalty points toward their future purchases.

[Read more: How Death Wish Coffee drinkers are saving the planet]

(Photo Credit: Pinterest)

Through a partnership with sister company Moyee Coffee, all coffee involved will be fully traceable back to farmers in Ethiopia, who receive additional value by having control over roasting and packaging.

Of course, the circularity of a coffee micro-economy naturally brings up some logistical questions. Storage space in cafes is a necessity for the collection of coffee grounds alone. The proximity among participating buyers and additional production facilities for spent grounds to be used will also be considered.

For the time being, Rotterzwam has paired with organizations based in Rotterdam, willing to commit to purchasing 30 or more kilos of coffee per month, with plans to expand further into Northern European cities in 2019. Now that's a way to make the coffee industry more sustainable if I've ever heard one!

Related: 5 ways to re-use your coffee grounds

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